Friday, May 21, 2010

Should US Chemical Regulation Look Like REACH? Perhaps it is Already Happening

Most in the United States agree that some form of TSCA Reform is necessary to allow EPA to better manage chemicals. On a macro-level their is broad agreement on the basic principles, though stakeholders tend to differ on the actual nuts and bolts of the proposed legislation. But one thing that you hear over and over, at least from industry, is WE DON'T WANT REACH!!

Seems Europe has a different view.

This week there has been a conference sponsored in part by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Interested stakeholders and regulators from around the globe are in attendance. And one of the topics is the collaboration between ECHA and other world regulatory bodies. ECHA Executive Director Geert Dancet notes that "our view is 20 years time REACH could be an element of a more global system." ECHA is looking for partnerships. And this week it is already signing an accord with Environment Canada to exchange non-confidential data and best practices on data management.

ECHA is also talking the USEPA and with NICNAS (the Australian regulatory body). In fact, it is expected that by sometime this summer the US will sign an agreement similar to the one that ECHA now has with Canada. This cooperation is to be expected, since a large percentage of the chemical companies in the US also manufacture or import in Europe so are already providing data packages.

All of this means that while there are many in the US that don't want TSCA reform to look too much like REACH, it is inevitable that there will be similarities in many respects. One goal of the final version of the Safe Chemicals Act (which likely won't happen until 2011) is to find a way to collaborate with ECHA so that companies that have already provided data to REACH can seamlessly use the data to meet future US obligations.

One issue not addressed in the proposed Safe Chemicals Act is exactly how data would be provided. I'll talk about that in future posts.

No comments: